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Pilgrims Didn’t Invent Thanksgiving

The celebration of a successful harvest, taken for granted in the West today, was far more important to our ancestors around the world.

Pilgrims Didn’t Invent Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims Didn’t Invent Thanksgiving,
So Stop Blaming Them And Be Grateful

We should celebrate Thanksgiving as our ancestors did,
a moment to reflect on the extraordinary blessings of our time.

By Elizabeth Bauer

Every fall, reports like this one from Newsweek in 2017 seem to appear:

Native Americans say the day is not a holiday but rather a celebration built on a lie, one they would rather spend indulging in some self-care instead of turkey and yams. Some even refer to the day as Day of Mourning or Unthanksgiving Day.

Yes, schoolchildren learn about the first Thanksgiving, when the pilgrims celebrated their harvest alongside the Native Americans who helped them survive in the New World. But it wholly misses the point to think of Thanksgiving as a commemoration of the Pilgrims’ arrival, or as a kumbaya moment of harmony between Pilgrims and Indians.

After all, the Pilgrims did not invent the idea of Thanksgiving. While we in the United States have transformed the holiday into a day for gratitude or spending time with family and friends, people have been celebrating successful harvests, since, well, probably as long as people have been harvesting.

Colonists in Jamestown celebrated a thanksgiving observance beginning in 1610, eleven years prior to the Pilgrim’s “First Thanksgiving.” They didn’t invent the idea of a “thanksgiving” either, as they would have been accustomed to harvest festivals in England. Those practices date back as far as pagan times and exist even now. Traditionally the holiday was celebrated the Sunday closest to the harvest moon (that is, the full moon that occurs nearest the autumn equinox), though in the past, the celebration simply occurred after the harvest was completed. The whole community, including children, helped right up until the end, as lives depended on the success of the harvest.

Such “thanksgivings” or harvest festivals are hardly limited to America and England. Germany has “Erntedankfest,” or “harvest thanksgiving,” on the first Sunday in October (though its observance is generally more limited to church services in modern times). Korea has Chuseok, China has the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Americans seeking to transform Christmas festivities into a non-religious or multi-religious celebration like to say it’s a winter solstice holiday celebrating “light in the darkness,” similar to what other religions observe. Some artificially find commonalities with Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, and even Ramadan whenever the latter holiday coincides even remotely with Christmastime.

But what’s a preposterous stretch for December holidays is a much more natural connection for Thanksgiving. The celebration of a successful harvest, taken for granted in the West today, was far more important to our ancestors around the world.

It’s extraordinary that we in the year 2018 can take completely for granted that harvests occur as scheduled and food is available in our grocery stores from day to day, with a variety of choices that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors, with the advent of canned food, then frozen food, and the shipping of food harvested in regions with year-round growing seasons.

So, sure, we can argue about whether the injustices Native Americans suffered taint Thanksgiving, or whether it’s right or wrong to remember this moment of unity at all. We can delve deep into the historical context and argue about whether the Europeans bear moral responsibility for the diseases they carried with them, and dispute whether children using paper bags to dress as Pilgrims and Indians is a charming tradition or supremely insensitive.

Or we can celebrate Thanksgiving as our ancestors did, as a moment to reflect on the extraordinary blessings of our modern era, when hunger and disease and infant mortality, so common in the past, are now so rare that we see them as a great tragedy rather than a natural part of life.`


Read Full article at the Federalist.


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2 Comments on Pilgrims Didn’t Invent Thanksgiving

  1. I have taken the liberty to repost this article by Mr. Denninger.
    I hope he doesn’t mind.

    PS. If you don’t believe this. Do your own research as you should for anything else. You have a moral and divine responsibility to seek the truth on everything.

    The Truth About Thanksgiving*
    2010-11-25 10:49 by Karl Denninger
    A reprise from my personal blog in 2006, before The Ticker began publication…
    Ok folks, in commemoration of Thanksgiving, while I sit here trying to figure out how eating a plate full of turkey has suddenly made me feel like I gained 10lbs (it couldn’t have been the stuffing, fixings and cookies, could it?) I thought I’d put this out there to dispel some of the myths surrounding this holiday.

    As we are told, the first settlers to this country (from Europe, natch) faced a horrible first winter, lost many of their people, and the native Americans (aka “Indians”) that were here helped them the following year and thus they were able to survive and ultimately prosper. They gave thanks for their harvest and invited their Indian friends to dinner.

    Well, ok, that’s part of the story.

    Now let’s talk about the rest.

    The colonists did not have money, of course. Merchants in London paid for their journey, but this put each of the colonists heavily into debt – a debt which they intended to pay off through their fruits in the New World and, they hoped, through the discovery of gold.

    There was no gold (well, not on the east coast anyway.) Before the colonists arrived in Cape Cod they penned the Mayflower Compact, which you can find at The Mayflower Compact

    You might recognize some of the language in that document – it is strikingly similar to the writings of Carl Marx many years later!

    In part, it read: “….And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.”

    The first winter was disasterous – nearly half of the Pilgrims died of starvation, pneumonia and tuberculosis. Many claim that Bradford’s first wife perished that first winter, but that is not quite true – she actually fell off the Mayflower quite close to land and drowned, never making it to Plymouth (he later remarried.)

    During the first two years the colony lived under what could only be called Communism, enshrined in the Mayflower Compact. Each person was accorded a “share” of the totality of what was produced at the colony, and each person was expected to do their part in working toward the common good. The land, and that upon it, was owned by the colony as a collective.

    It not only did not work out, it nearly killed them all.

    William Bradford wrote in his diary “For in this instance, community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort. For the young men who were most able and fit for service objected to being forced to spend their time and strength in working for other mens wives and children, without any recompense. The strong man or the resourceful man had no more share of food, clothes, etc., than the weak man who was not able to do a quarter the other could. This was thought injustice.

    After the second winter, realizing that the colony had survived only through the friendship and largesse of the native Americans, and would soon perish if changes were not made, Bradford tore up the Mayflower Compact. He instead assigned each family a plot of land to be their property, to be worked as the family saw fit, and with the fruits of that land to be their own. It was the beginning of private property rights in the New World.

    The result? Again, from his diary: “It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction.

    From the very day that Bradford tore up the Mayflower Compact, Plymouth began to prosper. Within a year the colonists found themselves with more food than they could eat. Flush with a bountiful harvest far in excess of their need for food and having bartered for all the goods they needed to get through the winter, they had a feast of thanks with their Indian trading partners.

    Within a couple of years the colonists paid off their debt to the London Merchants and became, in fact, free men.

    The story – and reason – for their success is not told in our government schools, for were every American child to be made aware of precisely why we have this nation today, and to understand just how close this country came to extinction 150 years before the Revolution, they would grow up understanding exactly how dangerous liberal and socialist thought – and the punishment of industry and capital through punitive tax policies – truly is.

    Today, we live in a society that is increasingly suspect of private property rights. We no longer own our property, we effectively lease it through ad-valorem property taxes. Our right to keep to ourselves or consume as we see fit the fruits of our labor is increasingly taxed away and given to others, who do not work for their rewards at all. Nearly half of all in the United States today can in fact “vote for a living”, in that they pay no federal income taxes at all, and a good percentage are actually paid to exist through the Earned Income Credit.

    When Plymouth Colony was founded, the population was small and the effects of such foolishness immediately apparent. When you only have 150 people, half of them dying is by no stretch catastrophic, and immediately obvious.

    This evening as we eat our feasts, let us not forget what Thanksgiving is truly for giving thanks for. It is not that the Indians saved the colonists from certain starvation.

    No, it is that one man – William Bradford – saw the wisdom of private property and free enterprise, and the folly of socialist society, and through his wisdom – far before the Founding Fathers – he took action to save his people and lay the groundwork for what would become America.

    As we loll around the house this evening, plump with our turkey feast, let us hold in our hearts that much of what we have in this nation does not comport with this very basic, fundamental principle. Our Constitution, written by men far wiser than us, has been twisted, contorted and tortured to permit all manner of socialism and communist action in the guise of “the greater good”, whether it be Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, government schools or prescription drug cards – and that it is our duty, as citizens of this great land, to do that which is necessary – and possible – to turn away from that which has, in the course of human events, been proven never to succeed.

    Finally, make sure you tell your children the truth about Thanksgiving, for they are the future, and without the truth about the past, cannot be expected to make good decisions as they grow up in the world.

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